Frederik Willem de Klerk (Afrikaans pronunciation: [ˈfrɪədərək ˈvələm də ˈklɛrk]; born 18 March 1936) is a South African politician who served as State President of South Africa from 1989 to 1994 and as Deputy President from 1994 to 1996. As South Africa's last head of state from the era of white-minority rule, he and his government dismantled the apartheid system and introduced universal suffrage. Ideologically a conservative and an economic liberal, he led the National Party from 1989 to 1997.
Born in Johannesburg, British Dominion of South Africa, to an influential Afrikaner family, de Klerk studied at Potchefstroom University before pursuing a legal career. Joining the National Party, to which he had family ties, he was elected to parliament and sat in the white-minority government of P. W. Botha, holding a succession of ministerial posts. As a minister, he supported and enforced apartheid, a system of racial segregation that privileged white South Africans. After Botha resigned in 1989, de Klerk replaced him, first as leader of the National Party and then as State President. Although observers expected him to continue Botha's defence of apartheid, de Klerk decided to end the policy. He was aware that growing ethnic animosity and violence was leading South Africa into a racial civil war. Amid this violence, the state security forces committed widespread human rights abuses and encouraged violence between Xhosa and Zulu, although de Klerk later denied sanctioning such actions. He permitted anti-apartheid marches to take place, legalised a range of previously banned anti-apartheid political parties, and freed imprisoned anti-apartheid activists, including Nelson Mandela. He also dismantled South Africa's nuclear weapons program.
De Klerk negotiated with Mandela to fully dismantle apartheid and establish a transition to universal suffrage. In 1993, he publicly apologised for apartheid's harmful effects, although not for apartheid itself. He oversaw the 1994 non-racial election in which Mandela led the African National Congress (ANC) to victory; the National Party took second place with 20% of the vote. After the election, de Klerk became a Deputy President in Mandela's ANC-led coalition, the Government of National Unity. In this position, he supported the government's liberal economic policies. De Klerk had desired a total amnesty for political crimes committed under apartheid and opposed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up to investigate past human rights abuses by both pro and anti-apartheid groups. His working relationship with Mandela was strained, although he later spoke fondly of him. In May 1996, after the National Party objected to the new constitution, de Klerk withdrew it from the coalition government; the party disbanded the following year and reformed as the New National Party. In 1997, he retired from active politics and since then has lectured internationally.
De Klerk is a controversial figure. The recipient of a wide range of awards—including the Nobel Peace Prize—he was widely praised for dismantling apartheid and bringing universal suffrage to South Africa. Conversely, anti-apartheid activists criticised him for offering only a qualified apology for apartheid and for ignoring the human rights abuses carried out by his state security forces, while South Africa's white right-wing claimed that by abandoning apartheid he had betrayed the interests of the country's white minority.
F. W. de Klerk
De Klerk in 2012
|7th State President of South Africa|
15 August 1989 – 10 May 1994
|Preceded by||P. W. Botha|
|Succeeded by||Nelson Mandela|
as President of South Africa
|1st Deputy President of South Africa|
10 May 1994 – 30 June 1996
Serving with Thabo Mbeki
|Preceded by||Alwyn Schlebusch|
as Vice State President
|Succeeded by||Thabo Mbeki (solely)|
Frederik Willem de Klerk
18 March 1936
Johannesburg, Transvaal, South Africa
|Relations||Johannes de Klerk (father)|
|Residence||Cape Town, Western Cape|
|Alma mater||Potchefstroom University (BA, LLB)|
F. W. de Klerk was born on 18 March 1936 in Mayfair, a suburb of Johannesburg. His parents were Johannes "Jan" de Klerk and Hendrina Cornelia Coetzer – "her forefather was a Kutzer who stems from Austria". He was his parents' second son, having a brother, Willem, who was eight years his senior. De Klerk's first language is Afrikaans and the earliest of his distant ancestors to arrive in what is now South Africa did so in the late 1680s.
De Klerk's family had played a leading role in Afrikaner society; they had longstanding affiliations with South Africa's National Party. His paternal great-grandfather, Jan van Rooy, had been a senator, while his paternal grandfather, Willem, had been a clergyman who fought in the Anglo-Boer War and who stood twice, unsuccessfully, as a National Party candidate. His paternal aunt's husband was J. G. Strijdom, a former Prime Minister. His own father, Jan de Klerk, was also a Senator, having served as the secretary of the National Party in Transvaal, president of the senate for seven years, and a member of the country's cabinet for fifteen years under three Prime Ministers. In this environment, de Klerk was exposed to politics from childhood. He and family members would be encouraged to hold family debates; his more conservative opinions would be challenged by his brother Willem, who was sympathetic to the more liberal, "enlightened" faction of the National Party. Willem became a political analyst and later split from the National Party to found the liberal Democratic Party.
The name "de Klerk" is derived from Le Clerc, Le Clercq and De Clercq, and is of French Huguenot origin (meaning "clergyman" or "literate" in old French). De Klerk noted that he is also of Dutch descent, with an Indian ancestor from the late 1600s or early 1700s. He is also said to be descended from the Khoi interpreter known as Krotoa or Eva.
De Klerk's upbringing was secure and comfortable.
When de Klerk was twelve years old, the apartheid system was officially institutionalised by the South African government; his father had been one of its originators. He therefore was, according to his brother, "one of a generation that grew up with the concept of apartheid". He was inculturated in the norms and values of Afrikaner society, including festivals like Kruger Day, loyalty to the Afrikaner nation, and stories of the "age of injustice" that the Afrikaner faced under the British. He was brought up in the Gereformeerde Kerk, the smallest and most socially conservative of South Africa's three Dutch Reformed Churches.
The de Klerk family moved around South Africa during his childhood, and he changed schools seven times over seven years. He eventually became a boarder at the Monument High School in Krugersdorp, where he graduated with a first-class pass in 1953. He was nevertheless disappointed not to get the four distinctions he was hoping for.
Between 1954 and 1958, de Klerk studied at Potchefstroom University, graduating with both a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Law. He later noted that during this legal training, he "became accustomed to thinking in terms of legal principles". While studying there, he became editor of the student newspaper, vice-chair of the student council, and a member of the Afrikaanse Studentebond's national executive council. At university, he was initiated into the Broederbond, a secret society for the Afrikaner social elite. As a student, he played both tennis and hockey and was known as "something of a ladies' man". At the university, he began a relationship with Marike Willemse, the daughter of a professor at the University of Pretoria. The couple married in 1959, when de Klerk was 23 and his wife 22.
After university, de Klerk pursued a legal career, becoming an articled clerk with the firm Pelser in Klerksdorp. Relocating to Pretoria, he became an articled clerk for another law firm, Mac-Robert. In 1962, he set up his own law partnership in Vereeniging, Transvaal, which he built into a successful business over ten years. During this period, he involved himself in a range of other activities. He was the national chair of the Junior Rapportryers for two years, and chair of the Law Society of Vaal Triangle. He was also on the council of the local technikon, on the council of his church, and on a local school board.
In 1972, his alma mater offered him a chair in its law faculty, which he accepted. Within a matter of days he was also approached by members of the National Party, who requested that he stand for the party at Vereeniging. De Klerk's candidature was successful and in November he was elected to the House of Assembly. There, he established a reputation as a formidable debater. He took on a number of roles in the party and government. He became the information officer of the Transvaal National Party, responsible for its propaganda output, and helped to establish a new National Party youth movement. He joined various party parliamentary study groups, including those on the Bantustans, labour, justice, and home affairs. As a member of various parliamentary groups, de Klerk went on several foreign visits, to Israel, Germany, the United Kingdom, and United States. It was in the latter in 1976 that he observed what he later described as the pervasive racism of U.S. society, later noting that he "saw more racial incidents in one month there than in South Africa in a year". In South Africa, de Klerk also played a senior role in two select committees, one formulating a policy on opening hotels to non-whites and the other formulating a new censorship law that was less strict than the one that had preceded it.
In 1975, Prime Minister John Vorster predicted that de Klerk would one day become leader of South Africa. Vorster planned to promote de Klerk to the position of a deputy minister in January 1976, but instead the job went to Andries Treurnicht. In April 1978, de Klerk was promoted to the position of Minister of Social Welfare and Pensions. In this role, he restored full autonomy to sporting control bodies which had for a time been under the jurisdiction of the government. As minister of Post and Telecommunications he finalised contracts that oversaw the electrification of that sector. As Minister of Mining he formalised a policy on coal exports and the structuring of Eskom and the Atomic Energy Corporation. He then became Minister of the Interior, he oversaw the repeal of the Mixed Marriages Act. In 1981, de Klerk was awarded the Decoration for Meritorious Service for his work in the government. As education minister between 1984 and 1989 he upheld the apartheid system in South Africa's schools, and extended the department to cover all racial groups.
For most of his career, de Klerk had a very conservative reputation, and was seen as someone who would obstruct change in South Africa. He had been a forceful proponent of apartheid's system of racial segregation and was perceived as an advocate of the white minority's interests. While serving under P. W. Botha's government, de Klerk was never part of Botha's inner circle.
P. W. Botha resigned as leader of the National Party after an apparent stroke, and de Klerk defeated Botha's preferred successor, finance minister Barend du Plessis, in the race to succeed him. On 2 February 1989, he was elected leader of the National Party. He defeated main rival Barend du Plessis to the position by a slim majority of eight votes, 69-61. Soon after, he called for the introduction of a new South African constitution, hinting that it would need to provide greater concession to non-white racial groups. After becoming party leader, de Klerk extended his foreign contacts. He travelled to London, where he met with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Although she opposed the anti-apartheid movement's calls for economic sanctions against South Africa, at the meeting she urged de Klerk to release the imprisoned anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela. He also expressed a desire to meet with representatives of the U.S. government in Washington D.C., although American Secretary of State James Baker informed him that the U.S. government considered it inopportune to have de Klerk meet with President George H. W. Bush.
Botha resigned on 14 August, and de Klerk was named acting state president until 20 September, when he was elected to a full five-year term as state president.  After he became acting president, ANC leaders spoke out against him, believing that he would be no different from his predecessors; he was widely regarded as a staunch supporter of apartheid. The prominent anti-apartheid activist Desmond Tutu shared this assessment, stating: "I don't think we've got to even begin to pretend that there is any reason for thinking that we are entering a new phase. It's just musical chairs". Tutu and Allan Boesak had been planning a protest march in Cape Town, which the security chiefs wanted to prevent. De Klerk nevertheless turned down their proposal to ban it, agreeing to let the march proceed and stating that "the door to a new South Africa is open, it is not necessary to batter it down". The march took place and was attended by approximately 30,000 people. Further protest marches followed in Grahamstown, Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Durban. De Klerk later noted that his security forces could not have prevented the marchers from gathering: "The choice, therefore, was between breaking up an illegal march with all of the attendant risks of violence and negative publicity, or of allowing the march to continue, subject to conditions that could help to avoid violence and ensure good public order." This decision marked a clear departure from the approach of the Botha era.
As President, he authorised the continuation of secret talks in Geneva between his National Intelligence Service and two exiled ANC leaders, Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma. In October, he personally agreed to meet with Tutu, Boesak, and Frank Chikane in a private meeting in Pretoria. That month, he also released a number of elderly anti-apartheid activists then imprisoned, including Walter Sisulu. He also ordered the closure of the National Security Management System. In December he visited Mandela in prison, speaking with him for three hours about the idea of transitioning away from white-minority rule. The collapse of the Eastern Bloc and the dissolution of the Soviet Union meant that he no longer feared that Marxists would manipulate the ANC. As he later related, the collapse of "the Marxist economic system in Eastern Europe... serves as a warning to those who insist on persisting with it in Africa. Those who seek to force this failure of a system on South Africa should engage in a total revision of their point of view. It should be clear to all that it is not the answer here either."
On 2 February 1990 he gave an address to the country's parliament in which he announced plans for sweeping reforms of the political system. He announced that a number of banned political parties, including the ANC and Communist Party of South Africa, would be legalised, although stipulated that this did not constitute an endorsement of their socialist economic policies nor of violent actions carried out by their members. He also announced that the Separate Amenities Act of 1953, which governed the segregation of public facilities, would be lifted. His speech revealed that all of those who were imprisoned solely for belonging to a banned organisation would be freed. He declared that Mandela would be released from prison unconditionally; the latter was released a week later. The vision set forth in de Klerk's address was for South Africa to become a Western-style liberal democracy; it envisioned a market-oriented economy which privileged private enterprise and restricted the government's role in economics.
De Klerk later related that "that speech was mainly aimed at breaking our stalemate in Africa and the West. Internationally we were teetering on the edge of the abyss." Throughout South Africa and across the world, there was astonishment at de Klerk's move. Foreign press coverage was largely positive and de Klerk received messages of support from other governments. Tutu said that "It's incredible... Give him credit. Give him credit, I do." Some black radicals regarded it as a gimmick and that it would prove to be without substance. It was also received negatively by some on the white right-wing, including in the Conservative Party, who believed that de Klerk was betraying the white population. De Klerk believed that the sudden growth of the Conservatives and other white right-wing groups was a passing phase reflecting anxiety and insecurity. These white right-wing groups were aware that they would not get what they wanted through the forthcoming negotiations, and so increasingly tried to derail the negotiations using revolutionary violence. The white-dominated liberal Democratic Party found itself in limbo, as de Klerk embraced much of the platform it had espoused, leaving it without a clear purpose.
Further reforms followed; membership of the National Party was opened up to non-whites. In June, parliament approved new legislation that repealed the Natives Land Act, 1913 and Native Trust and Land Act, 1936. The Population Registration Act, which established the racial classificatory guidelines for South Africa, was rescinded.
In legislative terms, he enabled the gradual end of apartheid. De Klerk also opened the way for the negotiations of the government with the anti-apartheid-opposition about a new constitution for the country. Nevertheless, he was accused by Anthony Sampson of complicity in the violence among the ANC, the Inkatha Freedom Party and elements of the security forces. In Mandela: The Authorised Biography, Sampson accuses de Klerk of permitting his ministers to build their own criminal empires.
His presidency was dominated by the negotiation process, mainly between his NP government and the ANC, which led to the democratization of South Africa. Throughout the negotiations, de Klerk primarily sought to prevent majority rule to preserve power for the white South African minority. His efforts, however, were thwarted when the Boipatong massacre caused a resurgence of international pressure against South Africa, leading to a weaker position at the negotiation tables for the National party. In 1992, de Klerk held a whites-only referendum on ending apartheid, with the result being an overwhelming "yes" vote to continue negotiations to end apartheid. Nelson Mandela was distrustful of the role played by de Klerk in the negotiations, particularly as he believed that de Klerk was knowledgeable about 'third force' attempts to foment violence in the country and destabilize the negotiations.
In 1990, de Klerk gave orders to end South Africa's nuclear weapons programme; the process of nuclear disarmament was essentially completed in 1991. The existence of the programme was not officially acknowledged before 1993.
In 1993, de Klerk and Mandela were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their work in ending apartheid. The awarding of the prize to de Klerk was controversial, especially in the light of de Klerk's reported admission that he ordered a massacre of supposed Azanian People's Liberation Army fighters, including teenagers, shortly before going to Oslo in 1993. It appears that this massacre may form part of the basis for criminal charges that the Anti-Racism Action Forum laid against de Klerk in early 2016. Further, de Klerk's role in the destabilization of the country during the negotiation process through the operation of a 'third force' came to the attention of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and was never ultimately clarified.
After the first universal elections in 1994, de Klerk became deputy president in the government of national unity under Nelson Mandela, a post he kept until 1996. In 1997 he resigned the leadership of the National Party and retired from politics.
In 1993, de Klerk issued an apology for the actions of the apartheid government, stating that: "It was not our intention to deprive people of their rights and to cause misery, but eventually apartheid led to just that. Insofar as that occurred we deeply regret it... Yes we are sorry". Tutu urged for people to accept the apology, stating that "saying sorry is not an easy thing to do... We should be magnanimous and accept it as a magnanimous act", although was privately frustrated that de Klerk's apology had been qualified and had not gone so far as to call apartheid an intrinsically evil policy.
De Klerk had been unhappy that changes had been made to the inauguration ceremony, rendering it multi-religious rather than reflecting the newly elected leader's particular denomination. When he was being sworn in, and the chief justice said "So help me God", de Klerk did not repeat this, instead stating, in Afrikaans: "So help me the triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit".
Mandela reappointed de Klerk's finance minister, Derek Keys, and retained Chris Stals, a former member of the Broederbond, as the head of the Central Bank. De Klerk supported the coalition's economic policies, stating that it "accepted a broad framework of responsible economic policies".
De Klerk's working relationship with Mandela was often strained, with the former finding it difficult adjusting to the fact that he was no longer president. De Klerk also felt that Mandela deliberately humiliated him, while Mandela found de Klerk to be needlessly provocative in cabinet. One dispute occurred in September 1995, after Mandela gave a Johannesburg speech criticising the National Party. Angered, de Klerk avoided Mandela until the latter requested they meet; when they ran into each other, they publicly argued in the street. Mandela later expressed regret for their disagreement but did not apologise for his original comments. De Klerk was also having problems from within his own party, some of whose members claimed that he was neglecting the party while in the government.
Many in the National Party—including many members of its executive committee—were unhappy with the other parties agreed upon a new constitution in May 1996. The party had wanted the constitution to guarantee that it would be represented in the government until 2004, although it did not do this. On 9 May, de Klerk announced that the National Party would withdraw from the coalition government. The decision shocked several of his six fellow Afrikaner cabinet colleagues; Pik Botha, for example, was left without a job as a result. Roelf Meyer reported feeling betrayed by de Klerk's act, while Leon Wessels thought that de Klerk had not tried hard enough to make the coalition work. De Klerk announced that he would lead the National Party in vigorous opposition to Mandela's government, stating that he wanted to ensure "a proper multi-party democracy, without which there may be a danger of South Africa lapsing into the African pattern of one-party states".
In de Klerk's view, his greatest defeat in the negotiations with Mandela had been his inability to secure a blanket amnesty for all those working for the government or state during the apartheid period. De Klerk was unhappy with the formation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). He had hoped that the TRC would be made up of an equal number of individuals from both the old and new governments, as there had been in the Chilean human rights commission. Instead, the TRC was designed to broadly reflect the wider diversity of South African society, and contained only two members who had explicitly supported apartheid, one a member of a right-wing group that had opposed de Klerk's National Party. De Klerk did not object to Tutu being selected as the TRC's chair for he regarded him as politically independent of Mandela's government, but he was upset that Alex Boraine had been selected as its deputy chair, later saying of Boraine: "beneath an urbane and deceptively affable exterior beat the heart of a zealot and an inquisitor."
De Klerk appeared before the TRC hearing to testify for Vlakplaas commanders who were accused of having committed human rights abuses during the apartheid era. He acknowledged that security forces had resorted to "unconventional strategies" in dealing with anti-apartheid revolutionaries, but that "within my knowledge and experience, they never included the authorisation of assassination, murder, torture, rape, assault or the like". After further evidence of said abuses was produced by the commission, de Klerk stated that he found the revelations to be "as shocking and as abhorrent as anybody else" but insisted that he and other senior party members were not willing to accept responsibility for the "criminal actions of a handful of operatives", stating that their behaviour was "not authorised [and] not intended" by his government. Given the widespread and systemic nature of the abuses that had taken place, as well as statements by security officers that their actions had been sanctioned by higher ranking figures, Tutu questioned how de Klerk and other government figures could not have been aware of them. Tutu had hoped that de Klerk or another senior white political figure from the apartheid era would openly accept responsibility for the human rights abuses, thereby allowing South Africa to move on; this was something that de Klerk would not do.
The TRC found de Klerk guilty of being an accessory to gross violations of human rights on the basis that as State President he had been told that P. W. Botha had authorised the bombing of Khotso House but had not revealed this information to the Committee. De Klerk challenged the TRC on this point, and it backed down. When the final TRC report was released 2002, it made a more limited accusation: that de Klerk had failed to give full disclosure about events that took place during his Presidency and that in view of his knowledge about the Khotso House bombing, his statement that none of his colleagues had authorised gross human rights abuses was "indefensible". In his later autobiography, de Klerk acknowledged that the TRC did significant damage to his public image.
In 1996, de Klerk was offered the Harper Fellowship at Yale Law School. He declined, citing protests at the university. De Klerk did, however, speak at Central Connecticut State University the day before his fellowship would have begun.
In 1998, de Klerk and his wife of 38 years, Marike de Klerk, were divorced following the discovery of his affair with Elita Georgiades, then the wife of Tony Georgiades, a Greek shipping tycoon who had allegedly given de Klerk and the NP financial support. Soon after his divorce, de Klerk and Georgiades were married. His divorce and remarriage scandalised conservative South African opinion, especially among the Calvinist Afrikaners. In 1999, his autobiography, The Last Trek – A New Beginning, was published. In 2001, following the murder of his former wife, the manuscript of her own autobiography, A Place Where the Sun Shines Again, was submitted to de Klerk, who urged the publishers to suppress a chapter dealing with his infidelity.
In 1999, de Klerk established the pro-peace FW de Klerk Foundation of which he is the chairman. De Klerk is also chairman of the Global Leadership Foundation, headquartered in London, which he set up in 2004, an organisation which works to support democratic leadership, prevent and resolve conflict through mediation and promote good governance in the form of democratic institutions, open markets, human rights and the rule of law. It does so by making available, discreetly and in confidence, the experience of former leaders to today's national leaders. It is a not-for-profit organisation composed of former heads of government and senior governmental and international organisation officials who work closely with heads of government on governance-related issues of concern to them.
On 3 December 2001, Marike de Klerk was found stabbed and strangled to death in her Cape Town flat. De Klerk, who was on a brief visit to Stockholm, Sweden, to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the Nobel Prize foundation, announced he would immediately return to mourn his dead ex-wife. The atrocity was reportedly condemned strongly by South African president Thabo Mbeki and Winnie Mandela, among others, who openly spoke in favour of Marike de Klerk. On 6 December, 21-year-old security guard Luyanda Mboniswa was arrested for the murder. On 15 May 2003, he received two life sentences for murder, as well as three years for breaking into Marike de Klerk's apartment.
In 2004, de Klerk announced that he was quitting the New National Party and seeking a new political home after it was announced that the NNP would merge with the ruling ANC. That same year, while giving an interview to US journalist Richard Stengel, de Klerk was asked whether South Africa had turned out the way he envisioned it back in 1990. His response was:
There are a number of imperfections in the new South Africa where I would have hoped that things would be better, but on balance I think we have basically achieved what we set out to achieve. And if I were to draw balance sheets on where South Africa stands now, I would say that the positive outweighs the negative by far. There is a tendency by commentators across the world to focus on the few negatives which are quite negative, like how are we handling AIDS, like our role vis-à-vis Zimbabwe. But the positives – the stability in South Africa, the adherence to well-balanced economic policies, fighting inflation, doing all the right things in order to lay the basis and the foundation for sustained economic growth – are in place.
In 2008, he repeated in a speech that "despite all the negatives facing South Africa, he is very positive about the country".
In 2006, he underwent surgery for a malignant tumour in his colon, discovered after an examination on 3 June. His condition deteriorated sharply, and he underwent a second operation after developing respiratory problems. On 13 June, it was announced that he was to undergo a tracheotomy. He recovered and on 11 September 2006 gave a speech at Kent State University Stark Campus.
In January 2007, de Klerk was a speaker promoting peace and democracy in the world at the "Towards a Global Forum on New Democracies" event in Taipei, Taiwan, along with other dignitaries including Poland's Lech Wałęsa and Taiwan's then president Chen Shui-Bian.
De Klerk is an Honorary Patron of the University Philosophical Society of Trinity College, Dublin, and Honorary Chairman of the Prague Society for International Cooperation. He has also received the Gold Medal for Outstanding Contribution to Public Discourse from the College Historical Society of Trinity College, Dublin, for his contribution to ending apartheid.
De Klerk is also a Member of the Advisory Board of the Global Panel Foundation based in Berlin, Copenhagen, New York, Prague, Sydney and Toronto – founded by the Dutch entrepreneur Bas Spuybroek in 1988, with the support of Dutch billionaire Frans Lurvink and former Dutch Foreign Minister Hans van den Broek. The Global Panel Foundation is known for its behind-the-scenes work in public policy and the annual presentation of the Hanno R. Ellenbogen Citizenship Award with the Prague Society for International Cooperation.
In a BBC interview broadcast in April 2012, he said he lived in an all-white neighbourhood. He had five servants, three coloured and two black: "We are one great big family together; we have the best of relationships." About Nelson Mandela, he said, "When Mandela goes it will be a moment when all South Africans put away their political differences, will take hands, and will together honour maybe the biggest known South African that has ever lived."
Upon hearing of the death of Mandela, de Klerk said: "He was a great unifier and a very, very special man in this regard beyond everything else he did. This emphasis on reconciliation was his biggest legacy."
In 2015, de Klerk wrote to The Times newspaper in the UK criticising moves to remove a statue to Cecil Rhodes at Oriel College, Oxford. He was subsequently criticized by some activists who described it as "ironic" that the last apartheid President should be defending a statue of a man labelled by critics as the "architect of apartheid". The Economic Freedom Fighters called for him to be stripped of his Nobel Peace Prize.
De Klerk was widely regarded as a politically conservative figure in South Africa. At the same time, he was flexible rather than dogmatic in his approach to political issues. He often hedged his bets and sought to accommodate divergent perspectives, favouring compromise over confrontation. Within the National Party, he continually strove for unity, coming to be regarded—according to his brother—as "a party man, a veritable Mr National Party". To stem defections from the right-wing end of the National Party, he made "ultra-conservative noises". This general approach led to the perception that he was "trying to be all things to all men".
De Klerk stated that within the party, he "never formed part of a political school of thought, and I deliberately kept out of the cliques and foments of the enlightened and conservative factions in the party. If the policy I propounded was ultra-conservative, then that was the policy; it was not necessarily I who was ultra-conservative. I saw my role in the party as that of an interpreter of the party's real median policy at any stage." De Klerk stated that "The silver thread throughout my career was my advocacy of National Party policy in all its various formulations. I refrained from adjusting that policy or adapting it to my own liking or convictions. I analysed it as it was formulated, to the letter."
For much of his career, de Klerk believed in apartheid and its system of racial segregation. According to his brother, de Klerk underwent a "political conversion" that took him from supporting apartheid to facilitating its demolition. This change was not "a dramatic event" however, but "was built... on pragmatism - it evolved as a process." He did not believe that South Africa would become a "non-racial society", but rather sought to build a "non-racist society" in which ethnic divisions remained; in his view "I do not believe in the existence of anything like a non-racial society in the literal sense of the word", citing the example of the United States and United Kingdom where there was no legal racial segregation but that distinct racial groups continued to exist.
Glad and Blanton stated that de Klerk's "political choices were undergirded by self-confidence and commitment to the common good." His brother Willem stated that de Klerk's demeanour was marked by "soberness, humility and calm", that he was an honest, intelligent, and open minded individual, and that he had a "natural cordiality" and a "solid sense of courtesy and good manners". He felt that de Klerk's "charisma" came not from an "exceptionally strong individualism" but from "his rationality, logic and balance". He was, according to de Klerk, "a man of compromise rather than a political innovator or entrepreneur".
Willem stated that "he keeps an ear to the ground and is sensitive to the slightest tremors", and that it was this which made him "a superb politician". Willem also stated that his brother was "a team-man who consults others, takes them into his confidence, honestly shares information with his colleagues, and has a knack of making people feel importance and at peace". His former wife Marike described de Klerk as being "extremely sensitive to beautiful things", exhibiting something akin to an artistic temperament.
Willem also noted that "in the most profound sense", de Klerk was driven by his concern for Afrikanerdom and "the survival of his own people in their fatherland". De Klerk was deeply upset that many Afrikaners did not realise that his reforms to dismantle apartheid were carried out with the intention of preserving a future for the Afrikaner people in South Africa.
With Marike, de Klerk had three children: Jan, who became a farmer in Western Transvaal, Willem, who went into public relations, and Susan, who became a teacher. Willem stated that de Klerk had a close relationship with his children, and that he was "a loving man who hugs and cuddles".
Glad and Blanton stated that de Klerk, along with Mandela, "accomplished the rare feat of bringing about systemic revolution through peaceful means." His brother noted that de Klerk's role in South African history was "to dismantle more than three centuries of white supremacy", and that in doing so his was "not a role of white surrender, but a role of white conversion to a new role" in society. In September 1990, Potchefstroom University awarded de Klerk with an honorary doctorate.
South Africa's Conservative Party came to regard him as its most hated adversary.
Yes, I'm an African, born and bred. My forebears arrived in South Africa in 1688. My later forebears fought the first modern anti-colonial war on the continent of Africa, against Great Britain. I'm an African, through and through, and the fact that I'm white does not detract from my total commitment to my country and through my country, to our continent.
Pieter Willem Botha
| State President of South Africa
as President of South Africa
|New title|| Deputy President of South Africa
Served alongside: Thabo Mbeki
The 1989 South African general election, held on 6 September of that year, was South Africa's last national race-based parliamentary election. The election was called early (no election was required until 1992) to gauge support for the recently elected head of the National Party, F. W. de Klerk (who was in the process of replacing P. W. Botha as the country's president) and his program of reform, which was to include further retreat from the policy of apartheid.
Although it won an absolute majority, the National Party suffered an electoral setback, winning only 48% of the popular vote and 103 of the seats in the House of Assembly.
The official opposition Conservative Party (CP), who opposed any form of powersharing with other race groups, remained the official opposition with 41 seats and gained 31% of the votes.
Before the elections the liberal Progressive Federal Party (PFP) had dissolved itself and regrouped as the Democratic Party (DP), which won 34 seats.1990 in South Africa
1990 in South Africa saw the official start of the process of ending Apartheid. President of South Africa, F.W. de Klerk announced plans to end apartheid. President De Klerk unbanned organisations that were banned by the government including the African National Congress, the South African Communist Party and the Pan Africanist Congress. The African National Congress' armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe, suspends its armed activity within South Africa. Political prisoners including Nelson Mandela were released. Nelson Mandela met ANC leader Oliver Tambo for the first time in 28 years at a meeting in Sweden. Mandela also traveled to England to thank the people for their support in the campaign to free him. South Africa withdrew its troops from Namibia, which was granted independence. 1990 also saw marches in support and against the formation of a new post-Apartheid South Africa.1991 in South Africa
The following lists events that happened during 1991 in South Africa.1992 South African apartheid referendum
A referendum on ending apartheid was held in South Africa on 17 March 1992. The referendum was limited to white South African voters, who were asked whether or not they supported the negotiated reforms begun by State President F. W. de Klerk two years earlier, in which he proposed to end the apartheid system that had been implemented since 1948. The result of the election was a large victory for the "yes" side, which ultimately resulted in apartheid being lifted. Universal suffrage was introduced two years later.1992 in South Africa
The following lists events that happened during 1992 in South Africa.1993 in South Africa
The following lists events that happened during 1993 in South Africa.Derek Keys
Derek Lyle Keys (30 August 1931 – 29 April 2018) was a South African politician who served as Minister of Finance from 1992 to September 1994, in the cabinets of F. W. de Klerk and Nelson Mandela.Endgame (2009 film)
Endgame is a 2009 British film directed by Pete Travis from a script by Paula Milne, based upon the book The Fall of Apartheid by Robert Harvey. The film is produced by Daybreak Pictures and reunites Travis with Vantage Point actor William Hurt. It also stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jonny Lee Miller and Mark Strong. The film dramatises the final days of apartheid in South Africa. It was filmed at locations in Reading, Berkshire, England and Cape Town, South Africa in the first half of 2008 and was completed in December that year.
The film had its world premiere on 18 January 2009 at the Sundance Film Festival and was broadcast on Channel 4 on 4 May 2009. It would also have an international theatrical release, the distribution of which was handled by Target Entertainment Group.Gene Louw
Eugene Louw, born 15 July 1931, is a South African politician, member of the National Party, MP for Durbanville and Paarl, who was administrator for Cape Province (1979–1989), Minister of Home Affairs (1989–1992), National Education (1989–1990), Public Works (1992–1993) and Defence (1992–1993) in the F.W. de Klerk government.
Louw retired from political life in 1994 to return to his work as a lawyer in Durbanville.Global Leadership Foundation
The Global Leadership Foundation (GLF) is a not-for-profit, non-governmental organisation comprising a network of former heads of state or government and other distinguished leaders who seek to assist developing countries improve governance, bolster democratic institutions and resolve conflicts. The organisation does so by providing free confidential advice to current heads of governments committed to peace, democracy and development. It was formed in 2004 by former South African President F. W. de Klerk and is active across the world. It does not publicize the countries in which it works.Groote Schuur
Groote Schuur ([ɣroːtə sxyːr], Dutch for "big shed") is an estate in Cape Town, South Africa. In 1657, the estate was owned by the Dutch East India Company which used it partly as a granary. Later, the farm and farmhouse was sold into private hands. In 1878, Groote Schuur was bought by Hester Anna van der Byl of the prominent Van Der Byl / Coetsee family. In 1891 Cecil Rhodes leased it from her. He later bought it from her in 1893 for £60 000, and had it converted and refurbished by the architect Sir Herbert Baker. The Cape Dutch building, located in Rondebosch, on the slopes of Devil's Peak, the outlying shoulder of Table Mountain, was originally part of the Dutch East India Company's granary constructed in the seventeenth century.
Little of the original house remained after a fire in 1896. The traditional thatched roof was replaced by sturdier Welsh slates. Rhodes gave no strict instructions as to what he wanted from Baker. Rhodes abhorred any mechanically made items (such as hinges for windows) in the house and set out to remove them and have them replaced with brass and bronze items that would be cast. Baker replaced the front of the house, added a long stoep in the back and constructed a new wing. The wing contained a billiard room and master bedroom above on the second floor that contained a large bay window overlooking Devil's Peak. He also added a grand hall with a massive fireplace.Sir Herbert Baker also played a significant role in the furnishing of the house. After initially furnishing with modern furniture from London, Rhodes, influenced by Baker, began a shift from the modern to more traditional Cape furniture. This would mark the beginning of Cecil Rhodes’ collection of colonial furnishings.The gardens of the house were as Rhodes demanded 'masses of colour'. Surrounding the house was a mass of roses, hydrangeas, cannas, bougainvilleas and fuchsias. Farther away from the house on the slopes of Devil's Peak, Rhodes kept antelopes, zebra, eland, wildebeest and ostriches.Rhodes was always a generous host while at Groote Schuur. He used the residence as much as a business and political headquarters as a home. His life at the time was one of dinner parties and meetings on the stoep, where he would be joined by as many as fifty people.From 1910 to 1984, it was the official Cape residence of the Prime Ministers of South Africa and continued as a presidential residence of P. W. Botha and F. W. De Klerk. However, P.W. Botha never resided there, opting rather to live in Westbrooke.In May 1956, Time magazine reported, "a party was held at Groote Schuur for South Africa's Nationalist Prime Minister Johannes Strydom after he had won the parliamentary campaign to continue white supremacy in a land of 2.6 million whites and 10 million nonwhites. The party was given by some of the younger nationalists and their wives to honor him. They organized a caravan of 130 vehicles and slowly drove up to the Groote Schuur. After reaching the house, they began to sing old Boer war songs—the Volksliederen of the Transvaal and Orange Free State. A speech was given by Mrs. M.D.J. Koster, the only female member of the parliament, 'Every white woman and every white mother thanks you from the depth of her heart.' Strydom’s response to this was, 'We must never be swerved from our goals...the struggle must continue.'"The building was the site for the signing of the historic "Groote Schuur Minute" between Nelson Mandela of the African National Congress and F.W. De Klerk, the then President of South Africa, on 4 May 1990. The document was a commitment between the two parties towards the resolution of the existing climate of violence and intimidation as well as a commitment to stability and to a peaceful process of negotiations.
A working party was established to investigate the granting of temporary immunity to ANC cadres, to advise on how to deal with the release of political prisoners and to make recommendations on the definition of political offences.
Under Nelson Mandela, the Genadendal building (formerly called Westbrooke) became the Cape Town residence of the South African President. Groote Schuur is now a museum and open to the public only by appointment.Klerk
De Klerk, Klerk, De Klerck or Klerck is surname of:
De KlerkAJ de Klerk (born 1991), Namibian rugby player
Bob de Klerk (born 1961), Dutch football player and manager
Evette de Klerk (born 1965), South African sprinter
Faf de Klerk (born 1991), South African rugby player
Michel de Klerk (1884–1923), Dutch architect
F. W. de Klerk (born 1936), President of South Africa
Faf de Klerk (born 1991), South African rugby player
Jade de Klerk (born 1999), South African cricketer
Jan de Klerk (1903-1979), South African politician, father of F.W.
Jan de Klerk (rugby union) (born 1991), South African rugby player
Marike de Klerk (1937–2001), South African politician, former wife of F.W. de Klerk
Michel de Klerk (1884–1923), Dutch architect
Nadine de Klerk (born 2000), South African cricketer
Peter de Klerk (1935–2015), South African racing driver
Rossouw de Klerk (born 1989), South African rugby player
Thom de Klerk (1912-1966), Dutch bassoonist
Veronica de Klerk (born 1947), Namibian women's rights activistKraai van Niekerk
André Isak "Kraai" van Niekerk, born in 1938 in Eshowe in KwaZulu-Natal, is a former South African politician.
He obtained a Ph.D. in Agriculture at the University of Stellenbosch, and then went on to work in several research positions before settling down in Rugseer near Kenhardt as a sheep farmer.
Van Niekerk embarked on a political career for the National Party when he was elected MP for Prieska in 1981. He became Deputy Minister of Agriculture in the cabinet of P. W. Botha in 1986. F. W. de Klerk appointed him Minister of Agriculture in 1990.
He was the only minister of the last apartheid government to keep his post in the Government of National Unity under Nelson Mandela (until the end of the GNU in 1996).
For some time, he was also the National Party's Chairman in the Northern Cape. He retired from parliament in 1997 to join Louis Luyt's Federal Alliance before the elections in 1999. After the 1999 elections, he became part of the two-member caucus of the FA, which entered into an alliance with the Democratic Alliance.
After the elections in 2004 he became Spokesperson on Agriculture of the DA caucus in the National Assembly. Van Niekerk, who is a member of AgriSA, has represented not less than three parties in the South African parliament. He is married to Theresa and the couple have three children.List of African Nobel laureates
The Nobel Prize is an international prize awarded annually since 1901 for achievements in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature, and Peace. An associated prize in Economic Sciences has been awarded since 1969. Nobel Prizes have been awarded to over 800 individuals.Africans have received awards in five of the six Nobel prize categories: Peace, Physics, Physiology or Medicine, Literature and Chemistry. The first Black African recipient, Albert Luthuli, was awarded the Peace Prize in 1960 and the first White African who received the prize was Max Theiler in 1951 for Physiology or Medicine. The most recent recipients, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Leymah Gbowee, were awarded the Nobel Prize in 2011.
A notable recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize is Nelson Mandela (1918 – 2013) the first democratically elected president of South Africa, who played a key role in the repeal of apartheid laws . He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 alongside President F.W. de Klerk Two African laureates, Anwar Sadat of Egypt in 1978 and F.W. de Klerk of South Africa in 1993, were presidents of their countries at the time they were awarded the Nobel Prize. Sadat was honored along with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin for their efforts to reach a peace agreement between their two countries. DeKlerk was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize along with Nelson Mandela, who led the ANC but was not president of South Africa until 1994.Mandela and de Klerk
Mandela and de Klerk is a 1997 made-for-television drama film written by Richard Wesley and directed by Joseph Sargent. The film stars Sidney Poitier and Michael Caine. The film documents the negotiations between F.W. de Klerk and Nelson Mandela to end South African apartheid, and was nominated for numerous awards in 1997 and 1998. It originally premiered on Showtime on February 16, 1997.Monument High School (Krugersdorp)
Monument High School or Hoërskool Monument in Afrikaans (also known by the nickname Monnas) is a dual medium public school in Krugersdorp, Gauteng, South Africa. The school is considered as one of the top rugby schools in South Africa and consistently rank amongst the country’s top 5 teams in the South African schools official rugby rankings. The first team rugby squad is known as the Wit Bulle (which translates as the White Bulls in English). The cultural activities offered by the school include choir, debate, public speaking, Jr. united nations, Miss. Monnas, orators and revue. The school also offers sports facilities for the following sports: athletics, golf, hockey, cricket, cross country, netball, rugby, chess, swimming and tennis.
Notable alumni include former President and Nobel prize laureate, F. W. de Klerk along with a number of current and former Springbok and International rugby players.
Cabinet of Nelson Mandela (1994–1999)
|State President (1961–1994)|
|President (from 1994)|
1993 Nobel Prize laureates
Toni Morrison (United States)
|Physiology or Medicine|